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Ten-year-olds impress doctors with speeches about genetic disorders
20 November 2017

Young pupils from West Thornton Primary Academy today (20 November) gave inspiring presentations about genetic disorders to doctors at Croydon University Hospital.

The Year 6 pupils spoke about the complicated topics of the human cell and genetic disorders including microtia, after their teachers helped them to research these issues during recent lessons.

The youngsters also talked about the children’s book Wonder (by author R. J. Palacio), the best-selling novel based on real-life experiences of a young boy exploring the challenges and friendships of someone who has Treacher Collins Syndrome, a rare facial deformity. It is being released as a major movie early in 2018, starring Julia Roberts, Owen Wilson and child actor Jacob Tremblay.

Ninety of the Year 6 pupils attended the 90-minute conference, which was organised by the school and Croydon Health Services NHS Trust.

Nathan, a pupil at West Thornton Primary Academy who presented on Treacher Collins Syndrome said: “I’ve found working on this project really fun because we’ve been able to develop our learning and research and understanding of the syndrome. I knew about Treacher Collins before but I have a deeper understanding now that I know the science behind it and its side effects.

“The project has also made me understand even more that a person with a disability, especially young people, may be different but they are still a person and can achieve whatever they want to.”

The doctors said they were astonished at how well the children understand the topics and, in particular, their effects on the everyday lives of those who live with such syndromes.

Silas Webb, a junior doctor at Croydon University Hospital, said:

“I really hope these bright young people choose futures in science, healthcare or social care. In our hospital we work hard to understand what patients need, not only what condition they have and these children are already developing that empathy. Their presentations have been inspiring and the knowledge and confidence they have shown at such a young age is fantastic.”

Ruth Fitze, assistant head at the West Thornton Primary Academy added:

"Key to the success of this project has been the opportunity to hold the conference at the hospital to an audience of experts. Learning in a real world context has encouraged our children to challenge themselves to the fullest.   

“West Thornton Primary Academy places challenge and creativity at the heart of the school’s curriculum. The opportunity to demonstrate learning in a real world context has a powerful effect on pupil performance and our pupils will take a lot from their experience at the hospital today.”

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